2021 Slated to Become Worst Year for LGBTQ State Legislative Attacks as Unprecedented Number of States Poised to Enact Record-Shattering Number of Anti-LGBTQ Measures Into Law

With Eight Anti-LGBTQ Bills Already Enacted Into Law In States This Year — and Ten More Awaiting Governors’ Signatures — 2021 is Slated as Early as This Week to Surpass 2015 as Worst Year In Recent History

Detailed Breakdown of 2021 Anti-LGBTQ State Legislation Below

WASHINGTON, D.C. – With an unprecedented number of anti-LGBTQ measures sweeping through state legislatures across the country, 2021 is on the cusp of surpassing 2015 as the worst year for anti-LGBTQ legislation in recent history, according to new tracking and analysis by the Human Rights Campaign (detailed breakdown below). The previous record — six years ago in 2015, when 15 anti-LGBTQ bills were enacted into law — is poised to be shattered as early as this week, as eight anti-LGBTQ bills have already been enacted into law and another ten are already on governors’ desks awaiting signature (if signed into law, more anti-LGBTQ legislation will have been enacted this year than in the last three years combined). In addition, several more bills are expected to pass through their second chamber next week.

As of today, hundreds of bills have been introduced in state legislatures around the country that attempt to erase transgender people [and] make LGBTQ people second class citizens. In order to achieve equality, we need those in positions of power at the largest businesses in the country to rise up against injustice and discrimination; businesses that have increasingly, over the years, embraced the inherent benefits of being socially responsible. … Companies cannot rise up and speak out against hate in the streets but remain silent when they see hate being indoctrinated in our laws by state legislatures and in the halls of the U.S. Capitol.

Alphonso David, Human Rights Campaign President

While more than 80 major U.S. corporations have stood up and spoken out to oppose anti-transgender legislation being proposed in states across the country — including companies like Facebook, Pfizer, American Airlines, Apple, IBM, Salesforce, Uber, and Verizon — David said we’re approaching crisis levels that will require the broader business community to rise up and play a more urgent role, and “not ignore the responsibility to take action against anti-equality bills at the state level.”

Breakdown of Anti-LGBTQ Legislation Sweeping State Legislatures in 2021

  • More than 250 anti-LGBTQ bills have been introduced in state legislatures across the country in 2021, and additional bills may be filed before the end of the legislative sessions.
  • So far in 2021, eight anti-LGBTQ bills have already been enacted into law, and another ten are already on governors’ desks awaiting signature — poised to surpass 2015 as the worst year for anti-LGBTQ legislation in recent history (when 15 anti-LGBTQ bills were enacted into law).
  • If these bills are enacted into law, it would mean that states will have enacted more anti-LGBTQ laws this year than in the last three years combined (anti-LGBTQ bills enacted in previous years include 2 bills in 2018, 7 bills in 2019, and 4 bills in 2020).
  • So far this year, eight anti-LGBTQ bills have been enacted into law, including:
  • 3 anti-trans sports bans in Arkansas, Mississippi, and Tennessee
  • 1 anti-trans medical care ban bill in Arkansas
  • 4 religious refusals bills, including in North Dakota, South Dakota, and two bills in Arkansas
  • Additionally, ten anti-LGBTQ bills are currently on the desks of governors awaiting signature, including:
  • 4 bills that would ban transgender students from participating in sports await governors’ action in Alabama (HB 391), Kansas (SB 55), Montana (HB 112), and West Virginia (HB 3293)
  • 2 bills that would forbid discussion of LGBTQ people, or sexuality or gender generally, in the classroom — in classes ranging from sex education to literature to history — await governors’ action in Arkansas (SB 389) and Tennessee (HB 529)
  • 1 religious refusal bill, known as a RFRA — which could allow for discrimination against LGBTQ people, women, and people of faith based on religious beliefs — awaits the governor’s action in Montana (SB 215)
  • 1 bill making it harder to update a person’s birth certificate is in final procedural steps as it heads to the Montana governor’s desk (SB 280), as is 1 bill that could limit youth access to curriculum about LGBTQ people and events (SB 99)
  • 1 bill that would prohibit transgender students from using the school restroom or locker room consistent with their gender identity (HB 1233/SB 1367) is on its way to the governor’s desk in Tennessee
  • More than 250 anti-LGBTQ bills have been introduced in state legislatures in 2021, including:
  • At least 35 bills that would prohibit transgender youth from being able to access best-practice, age-appropriate, gender-affirming medical care
  • At least 66 bills that would prohibit transgender youth (and in some cases college students) from participating in sports consistent with their gender identity
  • At least 43 bills that would allow people to assert a religious belief as justification for failing to abide by the law or provide services to people of whom they disapprove
  • At least 15 bills that would prohibit transgender people from having access to restrooms or locker rooms consistent with their gender identity

Arkansas, Montana, Tennessee, Texas Leading the Country in Anti-LGBTQ Bills

Several states have emerged as the most egregious drivers of discriminatory legislation this year, including Arkansas, Montana, Tennessee, and Texas — where measures that would block trans student athletes from playing sports and legislation that would prevent trans people from accessing medical care have inched closer to becoming law. Additionally, religious refusal laws in Arkansas and Montana would sanction discrimination against LGBTQ people under the guise of religious freedom. These bills have been presented as “solutions” by conservative lawmakers, yet they address no clear or demonstrated problems.

  • ARKANSAS — With four anti-LGBTQ laws already passed this year — an anti-transgender sports ban, two religious refusal laws, and a ban on transgender youth accessing medical care — Arkansas leads the country with the most anti-LGBTQ bills passed into law this year. It is currently the only state in the country to have passed a medical care ban into law.
  • MONTANA — Montana may soon join Arkansas with four anti-LGBTQ laws of its own, although none have yet been signed into law. SB 215, a RFRA — which would allow for discrimination against LGBTQ people under the guise of religious freedom — is making its way to the governor’s desk. Other bills also making their way to the Governor’s desk include SB 280, which would make it significantly more difficult for trans people to correct their birth certificate, and SB 99, which could limit youth access to curriculum about LGBTQ people and issues. HB112, an anti-trans sports bill, was amended in conference and is heading back to both chambers for approval.
  • TENNESSEE — Tennessee has introduced more than 70 pieces of anti-LGBTQ legislation over the past few sessions, and this year may end up leading the nation in the most anti-LGBTQ bills passed into law. One legislator declared that Tennessee was on the “cutting edge” of anti-LGBTQ legislation. The state is likely to pass new and novel anti-transgender legislation like the “business bathroom bill” (HB 1182/SB 1224) which will likely pass its second chamber next week, as well as a ban on transgender youth being able to access best-practice, age-appropriate, medically-necessary gender affirming care (HB 1027/SB 126). Tennessee has already passed a law barring transgender youth from playing sports, and two additional bills are currently before the governor including HB 1233/SB 1367 (which would prevent transgender students from being able to use the correct restroom or locker room at school) and SB 1229/HB 529 (which would forbid discussion of LGBTQ people, or sexuality or gender generally, in the classroom, in classes ranging from sex education to literature to history).
  • TEXAS — With more than twenty anti-LGBTQ bills this year, Texas has more anti-LGBTQ legislation introduced than any other state. These bills run the gamut, but include several that would allow discrimination under the guise of religious freedom, efforts to undermine non-discrimination policies and protections, and many pieces of legislation targeting the transgender community (specifically transgender student athletes and also in prohibiting transgender youth from accessing gender-affirming medical care). Among these is SB 1646 which would classify gender-affirming care as child abuse — which can be classified as a felony with corresponding jail time.

This wave of anti-LGBTQ legislation — a coordinated push led by national anti-LGBTQ groups, not local lawmakers – is part of a broader strategy to score political points with the conservative base by curtailing the rights of trans youth — under the guise of responding to nonexistent and baseless threats.

These bills represent a cruel effort to further stigmatize and discriminate against LGBTQ youth across the country, specifically trans youth who simply want to live as their true selves and grow into who they are. Of the ten anti-LGBTQ bills awaiting signatures from governors, half are anti-trans measures, and are among the more than 115 anti-trans bills being considered in at least 30 states — where dangerous, anti-trans momentum has continued to intensify in recent weeks and months.

Wide range of business and advocacy groups, athletes oppose anti-trans legislation

  • More than 80 major U.S. corporations have stood up and spoke out to oppose anti-transgender legislation being proposed in states across the country. New companies like Facebook, Pfizer, Altria, Peloton, and Dell join companies like Amazon, American Airlines, Apple, AT&T, AirBnB, Google, Hilton, IBM, IKEA, Microsoft, Nike, Paypal, Uber, and Verizon in objecting to these bills. Four of the largest U.S. food companies also condemned “dangerous, discriminatory legislation that serves as an attack on LGBTQ+ individuals, particularly transgender and nonbinary people,” and the Walton Family Foundation issued a statement expressing “alarm” at the trend of anti-transgender legislation that has recently become law in Arkansas.
  • The nation’s leading child health and welfare groups representing more than 7 million youth-serving professionals and more than 1000 child welfare organizations released an open letter calling for lawmakers in states across the country to oppose dozens of bills that target LGBTQ people, and transgender children in particular.

A fight driven by national anti-LGBTQ groups, not local legislators or public concern

  • These bills come from the same forces that drove previous anti-equality fights by pushing copycat bills across state houses — dangerous, anti-LGBTQ organizations like the Heritage Foundation, Alliance Defending Freedom (designated by Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group), and Eagle Forum among others. For example, Montana’s HB 112, the first anti-transgender sports bill to be passed through a legislative chamber in any state, was worked on by the Alliance Defending Freedom.

Trans equality is popular: Anti-transgender legislation is a low priority, even among Trump voters

  • A new PBS/NPR/Marist poll states that 67% of Americans, including 66% of Republicans, oppose the anti-transgender sports ban legislation proliferating across 30 states.
  • At least 60% of Trump voters across each of the 10 swing states say transgender people should be able to live freely and openly.
  • At least 87% of respondents across each of the 10 swing states say transgender people should have equal access to medical care, with many states breaking 90% support.
  • When respondents were asked about how they prioritized the importance of banning transgender people from participating in sports as compared to other policy issues, the issue came in dead last, with between 1% and 3% prioritizing the issue.
  • Another more recent poll conducted by the Human Rights Campaign & Hart Research Group revealed that, with respect to transgender youth participation in sports, the public’s strong inclination is on the side of fairness and equality for transgender student athletes. 73% of voters agree that “sports are important in young people’s lives. Young transgender people should be allowed opportunities to participate in a way that is safe and comfortable for them.”

States that pass anti-transgender legislation suffer economic, legal, reputational harm

  • Analyses conducted in the aftermath of previous divisive anti-transgender bills across the country, like the bathroom bills introduced in Texas and North Carolina and an anti-transgender sports ban in Idaho, show that there would be or has been devastating fallout.
  • The Idaho anti-transgender sports bill that passed was swiftly suspended by a federal district court. The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) came out against the Idaho bill and others like it and subsequently moved planned tournament games out of Idaho.
  • During a fight over an anti-transgender bathroom bill in 2017, the Texas Association of Business estimated $8.5 billion in economic losses, risking 185,000 jobs in the process due to National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and professional sporting event cancellations, a ban on taxpayer funded travel to those states, cancellation of movie productions, and businesses moving projects out of state.

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